2004 Trial des Nations, Cordoba, Spain

Two weeks after the Switzerland round, in which Fujinami captured his first world trial championship, competitors from the world gathered at the historical city of Cordoba in Spain for Trial des Nations 2004.

Even in Europe, trials events are usually held in an isolated mountain area. Yet the venue for the event was located about 15 minutes from the central city, very close from famed tourist area. It was a good illustration of recognition of the sport and a relationship between trials and the society.

Team Japan has been one of the major players in the event, constantly finishing on the podium. For 2004, the team was composed by Kenichi Kuroyama, Taichi Tanaka, Tomoyuki Ogawa and Fuji; it looked to be very strong. There were only two formidable rivals; team United Kingdom (2002 and 2003 winner), and team Spain (2000 and 2001 winner), as in the past.

Fuji was very looking forward to the event. Being in Europe competing world championship, especially in 2004 season Fuji did not have much time to ride with fellow Japanese riders. Teaming up with his long time friends and have some battle together was a huge pleasure for Fuji too.

After taking the championship, Fuji has been very busy with all the meetings and interviews. He was not as prepared as he wished when he arrived at Cordoba.

Hazards for des Nations have been relatively easy compare to the sections in world championship rounds, in order to provide safe competition for all the teams. It would then require intensive concentration rather than ultimate riding abilities.

A unique point system is applied for des Nations. Only top three scores at each section from the team will be counted; and the worst will be erased. Thus a mistake made by one rider will be cancelled by good performances by the teammates. Trial des Nation is a teamwork effort, and it provides different kind of difficulties, where straight forward battle in world championship.

Regular Montesa team staff: Josep, Alex and Santy were there to support Fuji, but they were to give intensive support for the rest of the team riders: another unique feature of the event.

Because of its unique point system, and not being an individual competition, the score posted by each rider will not be officially presented. According to Fuji's memory, he had 5 points on lap1 and 9 for lap2. He marked 29 cleans in total of 36 sections; he felt he did pretty well. Fuji thought his performance wasn't up to take a victory if it were a world championship round; he felt he could have finished on a podium.

It was team Spain that showed excellent performance. As far as individual competition in the world championship goes, those Spanish riders: Raga, Cabestany, Freixa, and young Fajardo, are prone to make a lot of mistakes, and lose the rhythm by their failures. But the point system of the event worked perfectly for them; canceling their mistakes, they kept their strength all the way.

Team Japan bettered team United Kingdom on lap1 by 9 points. However very hot Spanish weather took a toll on two of four riders in the team, and they gradually lost the rhythm on lap2. It might be un-realistic to hope for a victory as half of the team riders were there as 'one-time' ride from Japan, but it was unfortunate to give away 2nd position to team United Kingdom on lap2 to finish at the final sport of the podium.

There will be one more event before the season is over: Indoor des Nations. It will be the final event for Fuji on a RTL250R, which is the motorcycle he has competed many years with. Fuji will be on a 4 stroke RTL250F to start his new challenge in 2005 season.

Quote from Fujigas:
Although hazards were easier than world championship's standard, they were more difficult compare to what we had last year and 2 years ago. Section 10 was one of the most difficult one, where I had 3 point on lap1. On lap2, I had a good feel to score clean, but failed to five. Weather was very hot, but Kuroyama and I got used to such condition. We had similar weather many times in world championship rounds this year. I think team Spain was ahead of us this year. But we need to figure out how to deal with different condition and to do well as team Japan.
We had huge support for team Japan, and I regret that we couldn't perform better. I am happy to have warm support, and to be able to compete with a very good team this year. I like to say thank you very much for your support.

Trial des Nations 2004
1. Spain 33 (17,12) 106
2. United Kingdom 83 (43 37) 73
3. Japan 93 (34 59) 73
4. France 264 (107 141) 37
5. Italy 324 (166 158) 16
6. Czech Rep. 355 (182 173) 11

Pix: Hiroshi Nishimaki Official Results PDF
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